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Real Weddings: A Dream-Come-True Meitei Nuptial

"When Rajesh put the garland on me, we both smiled. Normally, Meitei weddings are a serious affair and the couple is expected to be composed. But we stole that moment for ourselves."

Diya J Verma
A typical Meitei wedding was the dream-come-true for Reena Ahanthem, senior fashion merchandiser and Rajesh Hidangmayum, a solutions consultant. Reena looks back at how things came to be.
  • The newly-wed couple.
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    The newly-wed couple.

    Meant To Be
    We were introduced by friends in Delhi in 2017 and hit it off from the start. I was leading an extremely busy life and he brought in a refreshing sense of calm. Imagining a future with him came so effortlessly.
     

  • Reena does a final touch-up before the Lei Chandan ceremony.
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    Reena does a final touch-up before the Lei Chandan ceremony.

    As Simple As That
    A couple of years ago, during a holiday in Pondicherry, we began chatting about our hopes and dreams. It suddenly struck us that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. There was no proposal. We just made that decision together.
     

  • The Bor Jatra puja for Rajesh before leaving for the bride’s home.
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    The Bor Jatra puja for Rajesh before leaving for the bride’s home.

    Honouring Customs
    I always wanted a traditional Meitei wedding and it was exactly as I had imagined. The festivities began with the Waroipot (engagement), followed by the Heijingpot (bridal shower), and then the Luhongba, or the wedding day. As per convention, all the rituals were held at my home in Imphal.
     

  • The bride’s jewellery.
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    The bride’s jewellery.

    Pretty Little Things
    We went for an elegant tone with the décor, with lots of white drapes, fairy lights, flowers, and pastel tones. But we didn’t use any fresh flowers as it breaks my heart to throw them away later.
     

  • The couple shares a laugh before the feast on the final day.
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    The couple shares a laugh before the feast on the final day.

    Our Advice
    Take step-by-step decisions so that you are not overwhelmed. Include your family in deciding the details, because their help can be invaluable.
     

  • The Luhongba marriage ceremony.
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    The Luhongba marriage ceremony.

    THE BRIDE
    My potloi was by designer Oja Sarat, and I wore my mother's jewellery for the Luhongba. All my phaneks (sarong-like wrap) and inaphi (a scarf-like upper wear) were from Rani Handloom House, a store in Imphal that's famous for its weaves.
    THE GROOM
    Rajesh’s kurta was from Popular Tailor in Paona Bazar, Imphal.
    THE WEDDING PLANNER
    Manipuri Weddings.
    THE PHOTOGRAPHS
    Adusyanti Chatterjee - Wowdings

  • The bride stringing her garland on the morning of the wedding.
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    The bride stringing her garland on the morning of the wedding.

  • A photo-booth for the guests.
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    A photo-booth for the guests.

  • Ceremonial music being performed.
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    Ceremonial music being performed.

  • Traditional food served on banana leaves.
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    Traditional food served on banana leaves.

  • As per ritual, Reena tosses a garland on the mosquito net on entering Rajesh’s house.
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    As per ritual, Reena tosses a garland on the mosquito net on entering Rajesh’s house.

  • The bride in her regalia called potloi.
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    The bride in her regalia called potloi.

  • Reena shares a moment with her loved ones at her maternal home.
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    Reena shares a moment with her loved ones at her maternal home.

  • A wedding procession of seven married women and a young girl, carrying presents for the bride and her family.
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    A wedding procession of seven married women and a young girl, carrying presents for the bride and her family.

  • Decorations at the Lei Chandan.
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    Decorations at the Lei Chandan.

  • Reena with her friends.
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    Reena with her friends.

  • Sandalwood being painted on Reena’s forehead.
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    Sandalwood being painted on Reena’s forehead.

  • The mandap erected in the courtyard of the bride’s home
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    The mandap erected in the courtyard of the bride’s home

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